What is a Family Violence Safety Notice?
A Family Violence Safety Notice (‘FVSN’) is a notice issued by the police to protect a person from an adult family member who is perpetrating family violence. FVSN’s were introduced to improve the response to family violence incidents outside of normal Court hours.
A FVSN can protect the affected family members (AFM) before an Intervention Order application is heard in Court. FVSNs usually involve situations when the AFM contacts police outside of Court hours, for example, on the weekend. In that sense, FVSN’s serve as an interim Intervention Order until the issue is heard before a magistrate in Court.
The FVSN can protect:
- The AFM;
- A child who has heard, seen or was around the family violence; or
- The property of the AFM.
How to apply for a Notice
A police officer can only apply for a FVSN if they believe, on reasonable grounds, that:
- The respondent is an adult (police can’t issue a notice against a person under 18); and
- The FVSN is necessary to ensure the safety (or to protect the property) of the AFM, or to protect a child subject to family violence.
Once the police have been contacted, the attending police officer can apply for a FVSN by phone while they are at the alleged family violence incident. A sergeant or higher-ranking police officer will then review the application and will issue the FVSN if they agree that the AFM needs protecting.
A police officer can apply for a FVSN even if the AFM doesn’t want them to.
What is the process once the Notice has been issued?
After the FVSN has been issued:
- The police officer must serve a copy of the FVSN to the respondent, the alleged perpetrator, and explain what the notice means.
- The AFM will also get a copy.
- The police officer will then file the FVSN with the Magistrates’ Court.
How does a Notice work?
Besides serving as a protection for the AFM, a FVSN is also:
- An application by the police for a family violence Intervention Order.
- A summons for the respondent to attend Court for an Intervention Order application. The summons will outline the time, date and place of the first Court date (known as the first Mention). If the respondent opposes the application, it may be weeks, or months, before they can put their case to the Court.
The Intervention Order application must be heard within 5 working days after the FVSN is served on the respondent.
The FVSN takes effect as soon as it has been served on the respondent by the police officer.
What conditions does a Notice impose?
The FVSN typically imposes similar conditions to a family violence Intervention Order. For example, a FVSN can prevent the respondent from:
- Committing family violence against the AFM.
- Contacting the AFM.
- Approaching within a certain distance from the AFM.
The police can include a condition that the respondent must leave the family home until the first Court date.
The penalty for contravening a FVSN is the same as an Intervention Order, so the police have the power to arrest the respondent if they breach any of the conditions imposed by the FVSN. This includes refusing to leave the family home.
How long does the Notice last?
A FVSN will continue to operate until the Intervention Order application is heard in Court.
The Magistrate will then decide whether or not a family violence Intervention Order should be served on the respondent.